Vamp: The Rise and Fall of Theda Bara
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Vamp: The Rise and Fall of Theda Bara

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  192 ratings  ·  14 reviews
Theda Bara became an overnight superstar with her film debut in the scandalous 1915 hit A Fool There Was, and for the rest of that decade stayed at the top of the heap, along with Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin. Despite her fame and notoriety as the movies' first "sex symbol, " no biography of the original Vamp has ever been written, even though Bara threatened to pen h...more
Paperback, 290 pages
Published November 25th 1997 by Vestal Press (first published 1996)
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Posterity has been both cruel and kind to Theda Bara.
In a sense, she's luckier than most of the forgotten stars of the early silent movies, because, even though most people no longer know her name, there is at least one iconic image of her that has seeped into the collective consciousness: her intense brooding gaze, directed at us from eyes surrounded by dark makeup rings and a head bedecked in faux-Egyptian headdress; her plumpish body sprawled and barely covered, her breast contours exposed an...more
This is a necessarily brief biography of an important cultural figure. Almost all her films have disappeared and the published information about her early life is almost entirely studio-created nonsense (she was "born in the shadow of the pyramids"--actually Cincinatti). Her active career as an onscreen sex bomb, the woman for whom the word "vamp" was invented, was also very brief--only from 1914 to 1919. What's left of that career are a few films (considered even at the time as some of her weak...more
Jenn Chaplin
More of an enigma than an actress, Theda Bara continues to captivate far long after her reign as the "Vamp." That in part has to do with the fact that only a couple films of hers survived after Fox Studio's film reels caught fire. There remains just a very small footage of her most intriguing film, Cleopatra, that only succeeds in heightening mystery that surrounds her. The still shots however remain and draw you to her captivating presence. This biography gives good insight into who she really...more
Nov 11, 2008 Martha rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone interested in silent films or movie history.
Recommended to Martha by:
Theda Bara was a silent film star of the 1910s who was very famous in her time for her femme fatale roles, is largely forgotten today. That's mainly because most of her films have been lost. Only about five of her 42 movies exist today. Most were lost in a studio fire.

I liked this book mostly because I'm interested in its subject matter - movie history, and especially the early history. It didn't delve very deeply into the subject's personal life. At times it almost reads like a filmography. Mo...more
More informative than it was "entertaining", but I think that's because I've been conditioned to equate scandal with excitement, and this lady had no scandals to speak of. Pure class! Learned a lot about the silent age and the failure we've had in preserving our past. I recommend this.
this book was a hard one to find. while its the only book about theda bara, it was ok. she was not really that exciting of a person and absolutely NOTHING like her vamp persona. i am glad i finally got to read it however and recommend it for anyone who enjoys the old silent films or movie history. it was sad to learn that out of 40+ movies only 3 of hers remain and they are not even the films that she was at her best in. It would have been a shear delight to see her versions of camille, cleopatr...more
A well-researched quick read, Eve Golden's biography of the screen's first sex symbol makes me really wish a copy of Cleopatra would turn up in a musty basement somewhere; from the mere 21 seconds that exist, I can tell that Theda brought more to a role than dramatic makeup and exotic costumes.
Vamp was an interesting read. I'm fascinated by early movie history. Theda Bara was a huge star in the very early days of the 20th century. She, like many stars of silent film, never made the jump to "talkies". Unfortunately, only a few of her movies are still in existence.
Dixie Diamond
Very nice photographs interspersed amid the text. Bara was shockingly ordinary--she sounded very much like me, except with a double life as a goth film star.

This is also interesting for its tidbits on the very early days of movie production.
This was a really good in depth story of Theda Bara's life of lies lol. Love the pictures. This is also a must read for people who are interested in how the film industry worked back then in the silent era.
Entertaining and witty account of Theda’s life and career. Very well researched , and manages to talk about the films and their plots without making them tedious.
Golden has a real way with words and telling the story with elan and great wit. An excellent and level-headed Bio of the first silent vamp.
Fascinating look at one of the forgotten "famous" silent film stars. If you're interested in silent films, then you need to read this.
Arsenio Peraza
the original Bad girl in films that she could never escape from.
Heather McConnell
Sadly, it's not terribly interesting. I was disappointed.
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Eve Golden is a biographer whose work focuses on American silent film, theater and early twentieth century actresses.
More about Eve Golden...
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